According to a recent Pew Research survey 37% of Americans attend church weekly while an additional 33% attend monthly or yearly. Within the hearing of friends or family many have expressed the sentiment, “I don’t need church!” Statistics show that with each generation, church commitments become less regular.
• The nature of the church is relationship. A true believer is such because they have entered a relationship with Jesus Christ. They have experienced the forgiveness of sin, having confessed them and been forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross on their behalf.
This relationship also places the believer in a fellowship with other believers; those who have also experienced this forgiveness by Christ. They are also identified throughout the book of Acts as the ecclesia, “called out” ones because Christ has called them to follow him.
The apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:22-32 speaks of this two-fold relationship as Christ is head of the Church, his Bride. We are part of the bride and must maintain a relationship with Christ as a bride and groom does. He loves the church and our desire must be to experience that love as part of the church.
Paul further emphasizes togetherness in Ephesians 2:19-22 as we are “built up and joined together” as the “household of God.” This describes the community or congregation of the church.
• The nature of the church is encouragement. Hebrews 10:24-25, (let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and good deeds) is as relevant today as it was when the author penned the verses. Encouragement is the root of the church community. Here we share the burdens of one another. In this community we find others with similar experiences and find comfort in knowing we are not alone.
The church unites us at the foot of the cross where the words of Scripture bring comfort and healing from the Only One, Jesus Christ.
The church offers acceptance because we are all, “sinners saved by grace” in need of God’s comforting grace. With this acceptance we can share our vulnerabilities and find peace with God. We can also be encouragers to others. Those new to the faith can find strength and companionship as we share our story in our walk of faith.
Ed Stetzer in his blog quotes C. S. Lewis concerning church attendance, “I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized the hymns (which were just sixth rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.”
• The nature of the church is service. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give,” Matthew 10:8. Church is not about you or me but about being co-laborers with Christ. We are called to serve others. One of your greatest blessings will be seeing a need in filling it by God’s grace. If your church is not doing it, begin yourself by being a co-laborer with Christ. Service can become second nature to us as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
Service is also a character builder for our children. As they observe our acts of service, they too become sensitive to the needs of others and less self-centered. As they learn to serve others more will be retained in the church as co-laborers with Christ.
As forgiven Christians, we are part of the church. Attending weekly services should be the highlight of our week. Here we are refreshed and renewed through fellowship and the teaching of God’s Word. As we encourage one another, opportunities for service are discovered which can be a blessing.